Lesson 2 of 7 - learn to communicate effectively

Affirm Your
 Communication Strengths!

A Personal Inventory

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW
Member NSRC Experts Council


The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/tools/strengths.htm

Updated 01-12-2015

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      This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 2 - learn communication basics and seven powerful skills to get more daily needs met more often. Progress with this depends on concurrent progress on Lesson 1 - free your wise true Self to guide you in calm and conflictual times.      

      This brief YouTube clip previews what you'll find in this worksheet:

      This worksheet provides a way to inventory someone's communication strengths. A related work-sheet can help you identify behaviors that block effective communication. This article assumes you're familiar with...


      Anything one person does that significantly affects another person mentally, emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually is "communication." Communicating is the main skill all living things rely on to fill their daily and special needs.

      Thinking is communication among the subselves that comprise normal personalities. Ignorance of (a) subself dynamics (inner conflicts) and (b) effective thinking and communicating (Lesson 2) is one of three main reasons for most marital, parental, and social problems. The other reasons are unawareness and significant psychological wounds.

      Starting in infancy, we grow an array of personal traits and abilities that hinder or help us to communicate effectively (reduce our current discomforts) in calm and stressful times. The traits that help us are strengths. Any motivated person guided by their true Self (Lesson 1) can improve their strengths, and enjoy satisfying communication outcomes internally and socially.

      Print and use this worksheet to clarify your awareness of

  • How you rate as a communicator with one or more key people, and

  • Your existing communication strengths (and opportunities to grow others)

      Think of one or more people whom you rate as excellent communicators, and identify why you judge them to excel. Then try saying your present communication strengths out loud now. Then compare them with what you discover below.

      For "extra credit," honestly rate your general effectiveness as a communicator from one (I'm very ineffective) to ten (I'm consistent very effective) ___. We'll review this after you're done...

      Are you comfortable identifying your strengths (talents) in general? Many shame-based survivors of low-nurturance childhoods were mistakenly taught that affirming personal strengths and gifts is prideful, egotistical, and/or arrogant (i.e. "bad"). A healthier attitude is "affirming and growing my strengths and honestly acknowledging my limitations are part of maintaining my personal identity and self-respect."

      Option - imagine yourself telling one or more childhood caregivers or mentors "I'm about to inventory my communication strengths," and their verbal and nonverbal responses, Reflect on what they mean... Print this inventory and review your responses later to see your growth! 

+ + +

1)  I define "communication" as...



2) To me, "effective communication" means:



3)  Pick a child or adult communication partner. Then rate yourself generally as a communicator with that person. Option: rate yourself in calm times and in conflicts: I'd say I'm

__ very ineffective  __ fairly ineffective   __ so-so   __ fairly effective   __ very effective

4)  Now
guesstimate honestly: In my communicating with them, I think they would rate me as

__ very ineffective  __ fairly ineffective   __ so-so   __ fairly effective   __ very effective

  • Specifically - what would help me communicate more effectively with them?


5) Pick a special person and rate them as a verbal communicator with you:

__ very ineffective  __ fairly ineffective   __ so-so   __ fairly effective   __ very effective

  • Now guess how that person would rate himself or herself:

__ very ineffective  __ fairly ineffective   __ so-so   __ fairly effective   __ very effective

  • Specifically, what would help them communicate more effectively with you?



6) Name one or more people that you consistently communicate/d very well with:

  • The key reasons that you we communicate/d well are/were

7) Several people I've consistently had trouble communicating verbally with are

  • The main reasons I've had trouble with them are:



8)  Check your usual communication strengths with a special communication partner, or in general:

__  My true Self often guides me in conflicts

__ I make enough time to communicate

__ I'm becoming fluent with these 7 skills

__ I express myself clearly

__ I negotiate effectively with adults and kids

__ I can summarize well

__ Im well organized when needed

__ I use appropriate physical touching

__ Im generally aware and attentive

__ I assert my needs and limits effectively

__ Im honest and genuine

__ I handle most conflicts effectively

__ I criticize others constructively

__ Im OK _ hearing and _ saying "no"

__ I discuss problems promptly and honestly

__ I seldom interrupt

__ Im direct and clear

__ I self-disclose and use humor appropriately

__ I listen empathically in key situations

__ Im usually self-aware

__ I'm aware of communication outcomes

__ I initiate needed talks promptly

__ I use humor well

__ I hang in there, vs. numb out or run away

__ I make good eye contact

__ I have a large, growing vocabulary

__ Im usually in the present (vs. past or future)

__ I handle silences well enough

__ Im usually empathic and sensitive

__ I usually have a 2-person awareness bubble

__ My words, face, and body match

__ I stay focused key topics until we're done

__ I confront other people respectfully

__ I question well

__ I try to problem-solve vs. argue or control

__ Im usually tactful

__ Im usually patient

__ Im assertive, vs. aggressive or submissive

__ I know how to respond to obnoxious people

__ I'm usually open to respectful feedback

__ I communicate effectively with kids


 9)  In public and private, I can comfortably express... (take your time with each of these!)

__ Joy!

__ Encouragement

__ Thanks

__ Apology

__ Love

__ Boredom

__ Worry / anxiety

__ Anger

__ Fear

__ Confusion

__ Shame

__ Disagreement

__ Hopes / dreams

__ Opinions

__ Forgiveness

 __ Frustration 

__ Neediness

__ Pain

__ Affection

__ Tears


__ Vulnerability

__ Desire

__ Praise

__ Sadness

__ Weariness

__ Humor


  • Other specific communication skills and abilities I want to develop over time are


  • What, if anything, is preventing me?






      The unique guidebook Satisfactions (Xlibris.com, 2nd ed., 2010) integrates the key Lesson-1 and Lesson-2 articles and resources in this nonprofit Web site, and provides many practical resources.

      Pause and reflect - what did you learn? How did it feel to affirm your communication strengths Now rate your general effectiveness as a communicator again from one (I'm very ineffective) to ten (I'm consistent very effective) ___.  Did anything change?


      This article invites you to identify your specific communication strengths, and to get a better idea of how effective a communicator you are - or could be. You can choose to develop each of the unchecked strengths over time. You can also use this inventory a guide for what to teach any young people in your life about communicating well.

Keep studying and practicing Lessons 1 and 2!

        Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

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